President Trump on Monday said he announced his pardon of former Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio as Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas because he “assumed the ratings would be far higher.”
“In the middle of a hurricane, even though it was a Friday evening, I assumed the ratings would be far higher than they would be normally,” Trump said during a press conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö. “You know, the hurricane was just starting.”
“He’s done a great job for the people of Arizona, he’s very strong on borders, very strong on illegal immigration,” Trump said about Arpaio. “I thought he was treated unbelievably unfairly when they came down with their big decision to go get him right before the election voting started.”
Democrats blasted Trump on Friday for announcing his pardon of Arpaio as Harvey made landfall, with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) accusing Trump of “using the cover of the storm” to issue the pardon.
The White House announced Trump’s decision to pardon Arpaio on Friday night in a statement.
“Throughout his time as Sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration,” the White House said.
“Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now eighty-five years old, and after more than fifty years of admirable service to our Nation, he is a worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon.”
Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt after he disobeyed a federal judge’s order to stop racially profiling individuals suspected of illegally entering the U.S.